This I Believe

Coty - San Marcos, Texas
Entered on February 7, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe that everyone has the right to shut the hell up.

At least that was a firm belief that my older cousin, Jolvan, drilled in my head as a high school student.

I have always been one to come up with excuses every since I was a child. Whether it be for why I didn’t do my chores, why a sly comment was made, why an assignment was turned in late (or not at all), or just why any obligation was not met; I had a ridiculous excuse (but logical enough for me) to make myself feel good through the day.

One may be surprised to know that because of my habits, I found myself in a lot of trouble. I lived with my very disagreeable aunt and uncle for a few years after my mother and grandmother past away. Because my mother had passed away and I was working so hard at school, my grandma let me get away with a lot of things I shouldn’t have: my late sleeping hours during the summer, my immersion into the world of Television, and my mounds of desire for all things sweet. In the time that I lived with my grandmother, her in and out of hospital visits forced me to become a more independent person. Though I grew to be a responsible person, I was learning how to be an adult at twelve years old. I would soon learn that there was so much left for me to encounter and experience… but I was not willing to experience it.

When my grandmother passed away, I decided to move to Texas to live with Uncle Joel, Aunt Danna, and my cousin Jolvan. I was suddenly thrown back into a world of dependency in which my mental strings had already been cut. Not only did I have listen to a now present authoritative figure, but I was now in a world where I was not the only child around. I was no longer the final say and my way was no longer the right way.

Jolvan and I were now two only children being forced to live as sisters. That may sound a little harsh, but we were both used to being the center of attention. We were now just another stereotypical sibling rivalries: who got to do what first, who’s older/younger and what privileges came with each, and more importantly, ‘who gets the last drumstick’ scream fests.

Over time, fights continued in the household between everyone. My uncle’s family was not a stable one to begin with – you stick a stubborn preteen in the equation and you do not get an easy solution. Jolvan and I would fight over the silliest things. We soon found ourselves very close to attending the same school [We would both be in high school – she a senior and I a freshman]. How could we possibly get along in a educational setting if we couldn’t even stand each other at home? We were never willing to listen to each other. Finally, the inevitable button to be pushed…was basically smashed.

My family very much admires space – so when the internet went out in my room and there was only one computer available for everyone to use, it was like sending angry coyotes out to feed… and everyone else was a sheep. After only two weeks of being civilized, I made the mistake of reading a document that she had open on her desktop. Though it was only a rough draft of her college essay, this in her eyes was a major invasion of privacy. She shoved me like most big sisters would do to their little sisters when they are angry… but I was no ordinary “little sister” – I pushed back. The pushing then escalated to hitting…and then punching. Soon we were on the floor in a all out brawl ( it was to intense and manly to be called a girl fight).

This is how we solved argument for years.

My uncle would stand in the corner just to make sure no one was bleeding when it was all said and done. After warring each other out emotionally and physically, we would sit on the floor, look at each other, and talk it out. Sometimes, all tired and bruised, I would still try to prove a pointless point because I was a “young adult” and still had the right to state my point.

In what seemed to be a long awaited release of emotion, Jolvan sweetly responded, “Yeah, you have rights, You have the right to shut the hell up!”

What a slap in the face…

I was awaken to a point that had completely overlooked. I was so busy trying to prove why I was right because of the things that I had been through and had never considered to listen to anyone else’s opinion or case. Why couldn’t a compromise be made. Why couldn’t things be worked out as civilized people? It is the American Nature to disregard the common thought of others. Welcome to the land of freedom and free thinking… where I am right and you are wrong (I being the individual).

I believe everyone has the right to take time to listen and to be heard at the same time. I believe in appreciating the thoughts of others and applying them to my own. I believe in silence and the appreciation of the voice. I believe everyone…just once in a while… should simply shut up.